The Lower Richland Diamond Hornets ran out of time against Florida’s Blanche Ely, falling 59-47 in the Chick-fil-A Classic Division II semifinal.
Senior guard Brandon Stroman helped the Diamond Hornets keep pace with the Tigers through much of the game.
Trailing by two after the break, Lower Richland’s leader dropped in a fast-break layup to knot the score near the start of the second half.
A Carlos Nuttry basket, off an assist from Timothy Myers, tied the game again with nine minutes to go, but Lower Richland could not muster a run.
Stroman finished with 17 points, and Jared Richardson had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Diamond Hornets.
“We really couldn’t get to the free throw line like we did in the first half, and I guess we got a little sluggish,” Stroman said. “We’ve got to become more of a second-half team, instead of a first-half team.”
“We missed a lot of opportunities, a lot of layups, and you can’t do that in the second half,” Lower Richland coach Willie Thomas said. “There were a lot of areas of the game, where if one thing goes differently, we come out on top.”
Blanche Ely was far from dominant.
The Diamond Hornets had strong offensive rebounding early but could not get second- and third-chance baskets to drop.
Blanche Ely’s Therrell Gossier lent size and speed on both ends of the court, posting eight rebounds in the game, and Javon Heastie pressured the ball to create turnovers for the Tigers. But East Carolina signee Lance Tejada was the only scorer for the Tigers in the first eight minutes.
Tejada gave Blanche Ely a small early lead with two field goals, and when the Tigers, two-time defending Florida Class 7A champions, fell briefly behind, Tejada responded.
With 9:12 to go in the first half, Tejada hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Blanche Ely in front. Two minutes later, Heastie added a 3 to make it a three-possession game.
With a Brandon Stroman bounce pass to Larry Collins for a layup, Lower Richland cut its deficit to one. But Blanche Ely scored eight in a row to push its lead to 25-16 with 2:36 left in the half.
Lower Richland surged with a field goal from Timothy Myers and five points from Stroman, to pull the Diamond Hornets to within two at the break.
Stroman had 12 points for Lower Richland in the half, while Tejada had 11 of his game-leading 19 points, to lead the Tigers.